WICHITA — The city this morning agreed to pay $800,000 more for a project to reduce flooding in west Wichita that was, in part, necessitated by private development.
The change pays for two pumping stations and cash to fund any temporary pumping that might be needed after heavy rains. That brings the city's share of the Cadillac Lake project to $2.85 million. Private developers, who have built a Lowe's store in the area, will contribute no additional money to the project. Their share sits at $1.41 million.
The increase set off a discussion about whether private developers, whose parking lots and roofs lead to more flooding problems, should bear the additional cost. It also opened a conversation about which flooding projects the city should address first, given that flooding is a significant problem in several areas.
Council member Janet Miller asked why the additional costs wouldn't be paid, at least in part, by the developers, New Market V LLC and Eastside Development LLC, whose project increased the need for flood mitigation.
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Council member Jeff Longwell, who represents the area, said the developers on this project and on other forthcoming projects are providing more flood protection than their developments necessitate.
"I think they've already gone up and beyond in helping us put in a significant project," he said.
Miller and council member Lavonta Williams also questioned the spending because it comes from a long-term proposed budget that the council hasn't yet reviewed. That means other flood projects that haven't been reviewed by the council or the public could be bumped off the list. City Manager Robert Layton said he plans to review the proposed capital improvement program budget with council members this week.
Council members Paul Gray and Sue Schlapp advocated for the spending, saying that west Wichita flooding is dangerous and is a citywide issue.
Gray noted that the project has already begun.
"It's a half-built bridge," he said.